Up, up and away!

That thought, complete with a slide of a rocket blasting off was an apt introduction to the core message delivered at the Barrie Mayor’s annual Progress Breakfast in May.

While that visual might relate to real estate values in the area with house prices up 65 per cent in two years, it was clear that Mayor Jeff Lehman was also thinking about other things as he pointed out that the Barrie area is an exceptional place to live and invest, and that many are doing both.

He welcomed five big companies to Barrie including Suzuki Canada Head Office, Burger Gruppe and Finnish Investors Group, all which are working with the city to create more local jobs.

Lehman also made a special point of noting that one of the reasons that the area has seen such explosive growth opportunities is because it has positioned itself as an entrepreneurial and technologically advanced urban hub.

Named the 3rd most entrepreneurial city in Canada – CFIB/Financial Post ranking, Lehman noted that “Technology allows us to shift government from reacting to problems to shaping our future.” This includes taking a long look at fresh ideas that could include doing things very differently than municipalities have traditionally done.

This includes being a full partner in the Sharing Economy Taskforce that wants to engage private businesses and citizens to help solve community issues like lack of parking.

Do you have an extra spot in your driveway that is unused? Maybe you can rent it via a new proposed parking space sharing app with the support of the City. That is one of the possibilities being considered, as the mayor and council might as well move with the times instead of against it, as the mayor notes, “consumer choice and technological change will always trump regulation.”

The Mayor also updated the group about ongoing projects in the town like the Memorial Square and Meridian Place, Georgian College’s Media Campus, the Bus Terminal conversion to a market and entrepreneurial centre and at least 12 new proposed high and mid-rise buildings slated to develop in the core.

But while growth brings good things, Lehman was also clear that there are challenges that come with it and pledged to work with community groups and service providers to create affordable housing, better fire and emergency response and education programs. Also to introduce more community programming for seniors, youth and families and keep roads in shape by detecting potential problems early and preventing bigger issues from arising.

“Technology allows us to shift government from reacting to problems to shaping our future, and drive efficiency along the way” he offers.

 

Photo: Mayor Jeff Lehman with guest speaker Nicole Verkindt of CBC’s Next Gen Dragon’s Den who discussed the impact of disruptive technology on the economy – a theme that fit with the mayor’s technology-first message.